Lesley Ann Downey, John Kilbride, Edward Evans, Pauline Reade, Keith Bennett
Perhaps there are only two sorts of Brits, those to whom these names have meant something for most of our lives, and those to whom they meant nothing until today.
You don’t hope a piece of shit like Brady rests in peace, well, unless you are a particular kind of religious person. Did Jesus not say: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” Of course they knew what they did and so did Brady.
You might think the planet is well rid. He is extinct. He has ceased to be. Donne wrote: ‘Any man’s death diminishes me.’ Not this one. If there’s anything or anyone to thank, thank him/her/it. The expression ‘thank goodness’ you might use in place of ‘thank God’ is actually equally strange: if goodness were a force to be thanked, there’d be no Bradys. Not of course that goodness doesn’t exist. Goodness lies in small places, such as the Manchester police who reject closing the case. So many years ago, the perpetrators both dead, how can it matter any more? It matters to the families and particularly to Keith Bennett’s family who were tortured by the refusal of Brady and Hindley to reveal where they buried him.
You might also think that for nearly fifty years we paid to maintain Brady’s continued existence. How many nurses would that have paid for? One of the arguments against capital punishment is the possibility of error. Not this time.
You might even rather wistfully hope Satan is busy lining up his minions ready to receive, sharpening the pitchforks and adding fuel to the fires. Examining human monsters can make you quite enthusiastic about the idea of hell, begin to feel it is basically a good idea that has unfortunately had a bad press due to those the more moronic of the religious maintain are destined to go there, people of independent views, gays, ‘bad women’. It’s not a nice place, hell. Read Dante. Not sure off the top of my head in which Circle a torturer and murderer of children would land.
All the same, eternity. Uh, that’s kind of a long time, man. Does anyone deserve to suffer until the end of time? One argument against orthodox Christianity is revulsion at the notion a supposedly loving and forgiving God will torment you for eternity, unless you are truly sorry. Why would he bother, hell simply a terror-tactic to keep the proles in line on earth, a con for which most of us proles have ceased to fall.
There are and have long been more sophisticated views. ‘The fires of hell are the Light of God as perceived by those who reject it.’ (St Catherine of Genoa) ‘I sent my Soul through the Invisible/Some letter of that After-life to spell:/And by and by my Soul return'd to me,/And answer'd "I Myself am Heav'n and Hell:" (Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam). The supremacy of free will is here writ large. It’s not God’s choice, it’s yours. Should you be burning in the eternal fire, you are not being done to but doing. Humans can be awfully fond of being done to, of being the helpless tools or victims of some greater power, whether Divine Will or capitalist society. If you are a racist, for instance, that which others regard as great, cool, such as a mixed-race couple cooing to each other, ‘makes’ your skin crawl. Nobody is doing a thing to you. Like that.
Was the prick ever sorry? A journalist reports the one time he expressed remorse. There could perhaps be only one true test of his remorse as of that of any murderer. It cannot be constructed by priest or psychiatrist though it could by any deity with half a brain. Once again meeting Lesley Ann Downey, John Kilbride, Edward Evans, Pauline Reade, Keith Bennett. It is curiosity of what we might call ‘top-down’ religious thinking that it has focused on being punished by the boss. If Himmler believed in life after death, would being surrounded by his victims and devoid of any control, any capacity to terrorize them, standing among them as an ordinary fellow-human-being, not be more terrifying than any divine wrath.
I think on the whole I like to think of Brady having landed in a field of flowers where Lesley Ann, John, Edward, Pauline and Keith are playing. They stop playing and just look at him, just go on looking at him. For eternity. Or until he starts trembling and sobbing, whichever is sooner. Perhaps no-one is forgiven unless his or her victims forgive.
The idea of reunion in the after-life is a commonplace. On how many gravestones is inscribed, 'until we meet again' or similar sentiment. It really is very strange that the implications of everyone who has ever lived being united are not more considered.